San Joaquin County
District Attorney's Office
OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY 222 E. Weber Ave., Room 202, Stockton, CA
P. O. Box 990, Stockton, CA 95201
T (209) 468-2400 | F (209) 465-0371
TORI VERBER SALAZAR District Attorney Scott A. Fichtner Assistant District Attorney Kristine M. Reed Assistant District Attorney James Bojko Chief Investigator
News from the Office of District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar
For Immediate Release
September 9, 2022
CONTACT: Elisa Bubak, Public Information Officer
T: (209) 468-2400 | E: elisa.bubak@sjcda.org

Six Charged for EBT Fraud as Result of SJCDA’s Office Operation

Today, District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar announced six individuals have been charged in an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) scheme due to the successful collaborative effort between the Bureau of Investigations, Delta R.A.T.T. taskforce, CHP-Sacramento, CHP- Stockton, and San Joaquin County Human Services Agency.

“Stealing funds meant to feed and nurture families is despicable,” said District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. “These individuals defrauded the most vulnerable in our community and cashed out thousands of dollars in benefits. I am grateful to the San Joaquin County District Attorney Investigators for their diligent and determined investigation, as well as our partners in law enforcement for assisting in the apprehension of these suspects.”

On Thursday, September 1 and Friday, September 2, the District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigations (BOI) IMPACT Unit facilitated an operation targeting suspects involved with EBT fraud.  Six individuals were arrested, charged, and arraigned on numerous counts of identity theft, credit card fraud, and criminal conspiracy-

  • Ana-Maria Dirman, 27
  • Felix Rafaila, 39
  • Fabrizio Nicolae, 21
  • Daniel Nicolae, 40
  • Ionut Costache, 28
  • Viorel Maruntelu, 39

The complaints alleged the defendants participated in or were in receipt of stolen California EBT cardholders account information in order to create cloned cards. The suspects then waited until the monthly funds were uploaded to the accounts before visiting various ATMs and banking institutions to withdraw the funds.

On Thursday, September 1, defendants Dirman and Rafaila were able to use 15 cloned cards at an ATM and withdrew approximately $10,000 before they were caught in the act by law enforcement. In total, 29 forged cards were seized from the pair.  

On Friday, September 2, defendants Costache and Fabrizio Nicolae were able to use nine cloned cards at various ATMs before being caught by law enforcement. Investigators seized $5,000 cash and 24 forged cards. Defendant Nicolae drove the getaway vehicle, while defendant Maruntelu previously surveilled the location and acted as the lookout.

Over the Deputy District Attorney’s vehement objections, a San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge released three defendants on their own recognizance, while bail was set at $5,000 for the remaining defendants.

Last month, San Joaquin County was defrauded of nearly $150,000 due to EBT scam efforts. Analysis from the San Joaquin County Human Services Agency showed that due to the efforts of District Attorney Investigators and like operations across the state, EBT fraud was reduced in San Joaquin County by $100,000.  

The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office is dedicated to ensuring public safety and equitable justice for all. The Office, in conjunction with local law enforcement partners, continues to hold those who commit harm accountable. To learn more about the Bureau of Investigations IMPACT Unit, visit SJGov.org/DA. To report EBT Fraud, call EBT Customer Service at (877) 328-9677 or contact your Eligibility Worker.